Saturday, 10 July 2010

Saturday Wordzzle 117

Well, it's 22:55 here in good old Blighty and time for the usual Wordzzle-related post.  I only have myself to blame for the words this week, as I provided them.  That said, it doesn't make them any easier to deal with.

For rules, advice and other players' wordzzles, go here.

The Mini (spotlight, canvas, kitty, money-box, eye-drops)

The eye-drops the doctors had given Kitty O'Hara had done absolutely no good at all.  The world was still blurry and strangely-coloured after weeks of treatment and an increasingly empty money-box.
"Just paint what you see!" barked M. Alphonse, the evening-class art teacher, in his overdone French accent (which Kitty strongly suspected was fake), "Do not try to make sense of eet!"
Kitty shrugged and applied her brush to her palette. Teacher knows best, she thought.
Now, weeks later, she stared in disbelief at her canvas, hanging on the wall in Spotlight, the town's exclusive gallery.  She had painted exactly what she saw - odd colours and blurriness included and now it seemed her hated eye condition would net her £500 when the painting sold.

The 10-worder (smoothly, spiders, floor boards, eggs, carpet, moonshine, leaping, CD, purring, jewel)

New to Harold? The story so far is here.

“… and I used to dream that the spiders living under my floor boards would come out at night and lay eggs in the carpet,” Prada was saying as Harold re-entered the living room with the coffee tray, “Took me years to work up the nerve to walk barefoot in that house. Ah, coffee!”

Harold smoothly placed the tray of cups and the coffeepot on the table.

“Right,” said Mercury, “Down to business. The way I see it, we have two things to worry about: our original investigation into the disappearances, and the fact that there may be someone in our midst working against us.”

“No ‘may be’ about it,” muttered Box into his coffee cup.

“This could actually work somewhat to our advantage,” piped up Teatime.

“How could that possibly work to our advantage?” said Prada, disbelievingly, “All it’s done so far is messed up our investigation.”

“Well,” said the little monkey, “Our ‘traitor’ is a definite link to Enigma – in fact, the only real link we have. If we can identify him – or her – then we may be able to use that to get to the bottom of things.”

“Yes,” agreed Othello, “That’s a good point. Thinking about it, I bet Agent Emerald was killed because he was either getting too close to the traitor or had uncovered something about the resurrection of project Dynamo.”

“I’m willing to bet,” chipped in Mercury, “that Emerald had some suspicions of his own and felt threatened, else why go to the trouble of setting up clues in his apartment the way he did?”

“Pity he didn’t leave any clues as to who he thought the traitor was.” Said India.

“Maybe he did,” said Othello, “but we didn’t know to look for them. Let’s face it, we almost didn’t find the Dynamo clues. Maybe if we went back there and looked again…?”

“It’s an idea,” agreed Mercury. “We have to be careful about the places we go, though. We don’t want to find any more presents waiting for us.”

“That’s a point,” said Teatime, “Who at OGS would have known where we were going?”

Othello pursed his lips, “Our mission wasn’t exactly secret, so anyone who could log onto our system could pull up our case notes and plans. Plus, we haven’t exactly kept our verbal discussions private – anyone could have overheard them.”

”Are we assuming then that our traitor is local – based at Aunt Aggie’s?” asked Prada.

“I think so, although we should beware of leaping to that conclusion too readily,” replied Othello, “Emerald worked out of Aunt Aggie’s, though, as do we. Add to that the apparent speed with which our traitor was able to organise his little surprise party and it’s a not unreasonable assumption – at least for now.”

“Whoever it was also moved quite quickly to intimidate Reverend Box,” said Harold.

“Yeah,” growled Box, “The guy was dressed in a nice suit and tie – I thought it was one of you at first, having arranged to meet you. Wouldn’t have let him in otherwise.”

“What exactly did he look like?” Mercury asked.

“He was about five-nine, average build. Black hair, brown eyes.”

Othello got out his laptop and brought it purring to life. “Give me a minute here,” he said, “There’s a site on the web that lets you do your own e-fits. It might be useful.”

About twenty minutes of clicking, pointing, pursed lips, wrinkled foreheads, tutting, squinting sideways and correcting later, a face stared out at them from the computer screen.

“Don’t recognise him at all.” Said Mercury. “If he’s OGS, he’s not from around here.”

“That would have been too easy,” grumbled Prada.

“I’m not sure he was actually OGS anyway,” said Box, “More likely, he was someone hired to warn me off helping you. Makes sense to use hired help when you think about it, nobody can point the finger at you later on.”

“How annoyingly far-sighted of him,” said Teatime. “He must have access to a fair amount of resources to hire his own goons – and have bombs planted on request. You chaps do background checks on your people don’t you? Are those records kept anywhere we could get to them?”

“We do conduct background checks and there are records, of course, but they’re only accessible to Directors. Why do you ask?” Said Mercury,

“Well, our traitor might have things in his background – occupational connections, maybe, or family ones – that might give us a clue.”

“There must be a hundred agents working out of Aunt Aggie's,” said Mercury, “Even if we could access their records, it would take time to go through each one’s background. Anyway, we can't access them, so it’s not an option.”

“It might be,” said Othello. The others looked at him. “A while back, Director Opal was having some computer problems and I helped him out. I had to use his password to log in.” Othello’s fingers did a rapid QWERTY two-step. “I told him to change it immediately after, but I’m betting….” His fingers danced some more, tapping in m-o-o-n-s-h-i-n-e-2-1. The login screen, bearing the crossed crook and key of the OGS crest, disappeared, to be replaced by a menu. “Gotta love human nature,” sang Othello, “His last password ended in two-zero. I just knew he’d do the absolute minimum to change it. Now, let’s see… It should be possible to download the records onto my laptop. Box, do you still have your laptop?”

“I do,” replied Box, “I’ll just go and get it.” He disappeared upstairs.

“ If I copy the records to a CD and give them to Box, then two people can work on the records at the same time on two machines. I don’t want to have to stay logged in here for any length of time – if Opal tried to log in now, he’d be told that he was already logged on. The system only allows a user to be logged on once at any one time.” He dug in his laptop bag, retrieved a CD, flipped open the transparent jewel case and placed the shiny disc into the computer’s drive.

A short time later, Box came trotting back down the stairs, laptop in hand.

“I don’t want to worry anyone” he said, “but when I was upstairs, I looked out the bedroom window and there’s a telephone company truck parked just down the street.”

“What of it?” said Mercury.

“It’s only just turned seven a.m.” The little man said, “Since when did the telephone company ever show up this early in the morning?”

“Might be nothing,” said Mercury, “Maybe we should keep a lookout, though, in case. Prada, you take the front. India, the back. Is that CD ready?”

Othello handed the CD to Box and explained quickly what they were about. Box started up his machine. Othello began scanning records on his computer while Mercury did the same on Box’s.

Having nothing else to do, Harold wandered over to where Prada was looking out of the front windows.

“Don’t stand in full view,” she scolded, “stand so the curtain hides you.”

“Sorry,” he said, “Haven’t exactly been trained for this.”

Outside in the street, all was quiet.

Author's Note:
There are websites where you can make your own e-fits. e.g. this one.  I played with this, trying to construct an image of my hubs, whose face I should know in detail, right?  Turns out it's way harder than it looks - it's a wonder the cops catch anybody with these things.


  1. Love the first one! Perhaps you should try to do a painting - who knows what might happen. Heh.

    The Harold story is still great. I might have to try that e-fit business - might be entertaining.

  2. Brilliant on both counts. I used to wonder if the great impressionist painters were just people with vision problems (the way my mind works.) Anyway, I loved your mini. And I know I'm repeating myself, but I LOVE Harold. I thought your disposal of Moonshine was awesome clever.

  3. Yes a painting of the first one would be fab! I really do like this story there is a great humorous irony to this tale. It appeals to me very much. To pick up on Raven's wonder they recently did some research about Monet stating he suffered from eye problems, I think maybe some type of cataracts hence the hue and almost defused feel of his paintings.
    Harold what can I say other than a real continuing delight. Your ability to retain continuity and consistency of character is truly a gift

  4. Thanks everyone for the encouraging words - it's what keeps me coming back each week, shallow thing that I am.

    Bug - I'm completely colour-blind so any of my paintings would probably look like Kitty's, heh.

    Raven - I had a book called "The World Through Blunted Sight" that analysed paintings done by some of the old masters, and attempted to explain what vision problems they may have had. There is a competing theory that says: even if they had a sight problem, you would not tell from the paintings, since they would see their painting and the world in the same way. So, in order to accurately reflect the world he was seeing, the artist would need to paint his painting so that it matched the world - the painting would therefore, when seen by a normal person, look normal - just as the world does.

    Gwei - Thanks for the kind words. It is more tricky to keep up on ongoing story this way but the upside is that, by now, I know my characters fairly well so certain words 'gravitate' towards them.

  5. Maybe that is something I COULD do, the short zzle anyway.
    Not as well as you, of course, yours are always brilliant.

  6. Friko - I'm sure you could do at least the mini challenge and I've found that a certain amount of practice helps too: I find the mini more easy these days than when I started out. Be great if you came and joined in. Next week's words are on the link in my post above if you want a run at it.


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